Egyptian court seeks death penalty for ex-president Mursi


An Egyptian court on Saturday sought the death penalty for former president Mohamed Mursi and 106 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.

Mursi and his fellow defendants, including top Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, were convicted for killing and kidnapping policemen, attacking police facilities and breaking out of jail during the uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

The court’s request drew condemnations from Amnesty International and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

The final ruling is expected to be made on June 2. The court sought capital punishment in a separate case for Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater and 15 others for conspiring with foreign militant groups against Egypt.

The rulings, like all capital sentences, will be referred to Egypt’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion.

Mursi can appeal the verdict. He has said the court is not legitimate, describing legal proceedings against him as part of a coup by former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013.

Many other defendants are on the run.

The Brotherhood, an Islamist movement, propelled Mursi to election victory in 2012 following Mubarak’s ouster but was driven underground after the army ouster a year later following protests against his rule.

Mursi stood defiant in a court cage on Saturday wearing a blue prison outfit. He smiled and pumped his fists in the air as the judge read the sentences.

Other defendants, held in a courtroom cage separate from Mursi, flashed a four-finger salute symbolizing resistance to the state’s anti-Islamist crackdown. From behind soundproof glass, they shouted: “Down with military rule!”

Wearing white, red and blue prison jumpsuits – identifying them respectively as awaiting sentencing, condemned to death, and sentenced to a lesser penalty – they seemed to form a choir momentarily, with one prisoner leading the rest in protest chants.

Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, the influential Qatar-based Muslim cleric, was among those sentenced to death.

Muslim Brotherhood official Amr Darrag condemned the decision.